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Marathon Man

Year: 1976
Studio: Paramount
Director: John Schlesinger
Producer: Robert Evans
Writer: William Goldman
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider
The movie that sparked on of the greatest debates in the art of performance. After Hoffman ran around the block before takes to make himself look harried, tired and paranoid, stage and screen legend Olivier asked him why. Hoffman replied that it made him out of breath and scared-looking, to which Olivier responded; why be when you act? It galvanised the two most powerful schools of thought about acting; be (Hoffman) versus act (Olivier).

Both methods work, each star on top of their game in this paranoid political thriller from the era that gave us some of the best (Three Days of the Condor, The Conversation and Network). Hoffman is a young marathon runner whose brother is part of a deep cover government agency tailing a Nazi war criminal trying to smuggle priceless diamonds out of the US.

Sound unbelievable? Not in the hands of director Schlesinger, screenwriter Goldman and the impressive cast. Stuck in the middle of it, a young Hoffman is like a rabbit caught in headlights, and if you've seen any movie in the last ten years, you've seen a take off of the famous, quietly spoken question; 'is it safe?'

Dated, but brooding and effective.

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